It was a Wednesday full of mixed emotions as the third day of the 2019 AFLW Sign and Trade period came to an end.
The Lions have been bolstered by the signatures of eight experienced players and a rookie for the 2020 season.
Jess Wuetschner, Kate Lutkins, Emily Bates, Sharni Webb, Nat Grider, Jesse Wardlaw, Jade Ellenger and Jessy Keeffe have all recommitted to the Lions.
Rookie Brianna McFarlane has also re-signed and will aim to make her AFLW debut next year after a shoulder injury in December ruled her out for the entire year.
Collingwood’s 2019 Best and Fairest winner Jaimee Lambert heads a further list of five players to have signed fresh deals with the club.
Her signing came shortly after 2018 Rising Star Chloe Molloy, foundation defender Stacey Livingstone and 2018 draftees Lauren Butler and Mikala Cann put pen to paper.
Molloy was restricted to the sidelines in 2019 due to a Lisfranc foot injury but the 20-year-old will play VFLW in preparation for the 2020 AFLW campaign.
With four more teams entering the competition next year, Collingwood have opted to invest in the draft and build a critical mass of high-end young talent.
The five new signings join Steph Chiocci along with Sarah Dargan, Britt Bonnici, Ruby Schleicher, Erica Fowler, Sophie Alexander and Eliza Hynes, who were announced by the club on Tuesday.
“Securing 12 of our last years’ list validates that our women’s football program is solid and working,” GM of Women’s Sport Jane Woodlands-Thompson said.
“Our strategy was always long term and we’re thrilled to see our draftees re-signed for another year.”
The Dockers saw captain Kara Donnellan re-sign alongside 2019 Fairest and Best winner Kiara Bowers, 2018 Fairest and Best winner Ebony Antonio, Gabby O’Sullivan and Evie Gooch.
The focus for the club has been about retaining players ahead of the 2020 so they can build on their achievements from this season, where the club made its maiden finals appearance.
“We had a really great season but we’re ready to go again, we’re really hungry, we know what it feels like to lose that prelim and we don’t want to feel that again,” Donnellan said.
“I feel we’ve built something really strong this season. We brought in 11 new players that have brought just so much energy, they’re all individual characters that bring their own strengths to the group.
“I’m really hopeful that we’ll keep a lot of those girls around so we can continue to build on what we’ve started and we’ll be looking to hit the ground running for pre-season in November.”
However, the club lost midfielder Dana Hooker to new West Australian side West Coast.
The Saints have welcomed Darcy Guttridge to their AFLW ranks.
The Gippsland product has spent the past two seasons with Collingwood before signing her new contract with the Saints.
The now 19-year-old was sidelined for the 2018 AFLW season with a broken
A broken collarbone kept her out of the 2018 AFLW season, but Guttridge says the ups and downs of footy have only made her stronger. The 19-year-old also moved from the backline to the forward line in 2019, proving her versatility.
“It was fun making people accountable for once rather than me being accountable for my player,” Guttridge said.
“I found it really fun bringing defensive pressure up forward. I’ve really enjoyed my time there.”
Melbourne have made their first big move of the Sign and Trade period by re-signing All Australian duo Karen Paxman and Lauren Pearce on two-year contracts.
The pair, as well as forward Aliesha Newman, were highly sought-after by opposition clubs following a standout 2019 season, but they have committed to Melbourne along with 15 of their teammates.
“It’s a great sign for the club that so many girls want to stick around for next year,” FLW List Manager Todd Patterson said.
“We’re really confident with what we’re building here, and we wanted to hold onto the core group of players.”
Co-captains Elise O’Dea and Shelley Scott are among the players to put pen to paper during the signing period, along with vice-captain Sarah Lampard who rounds out the leadership group.
Star forward Tegan Cunningham will also be pulling on the red and blue again in her third year of footy while Maddi Gay also recommit, along with fellow midfielders Kate Hore and Lily Mithen.
The Demons backline will remain strong with the signatures of Harriet Cordner, Chantel Emonson, Katherine Smith and Shae Sloane, while some talented youngsters have also agreed to remain with the Dees.
“We have signed up a really good balance of girls which we think is important,” Patterson said.
“Obviously to hold onto those younger players is crucial, but to re-sign girls from all three lines across the field will hold us in a good position for next season."
Co-captain Ellie Blackburn, defender Hannah Scott and rising star Isabel Huntington have committed to the Club for at least the next two AFLW seasons.
The Club’s first pick in the 2018 NAB AFLW Draft, Eleanor Brown, 2018 Rising Star nominee Bonnie Toogood and the Bulldogs’ first ever AFLW goalkicker Kirsten McLeod have also committed to the Club for the 2020 AFLW season.
Midfielders Kirsty Lamb and Naomi Ferres, and key defender Lauren Spark, have signed two-year deals.